Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Series Editor’s Preface

Richard K. Payne

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pp. vii-viii

In this work, Paul B. Watt introduces us to Yasuda Rijin (1900–1982), one of the important Pure Land thinkers of twentieth-century Japan. Modern Shin thought is deeply informed by attempting to address concerns arising simultaneously from the radical social and intellectual changes created by the modernization of Japan while retaining a connection with the Buddhist tradition. Yasuda was associated with the Ōtani branch, and he drew on the creative...

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

This book is an introduction to the thought and writings of the modern Shin Buddhist thinker Yasuda Rijin (1900–1982). Part I provides background information about Yasuda’s life, the Shin Buddhist tradition on which he drew, and a short summary of major themes in his writings. Part II, the longer and more significant section of the book, contains annotated translations of a number of Yasuda’s lectures and writings ranging from...

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A Word about the Translations

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pp. xi-xiv

In translating Yasuda’s lectures and writings, I have aimed to provide a readable and reliable English rendering of his works while at the same time remaining relatively faithful to his language and style. Readers of the original Japanese know that, at times, Yasuda can be not only eloquent but even poetic; at other points, he may strike the reader as repetitive and plodding. A freer treatment of his language might have smoothed over those...

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Part I. Introduction: Yasuda Rijin and the Shin Buddhist Tradition

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pp. 1-42

One of the major characteristics of Mahayana Buddhism, the branch of the religion that initially emerged in India in the first century BCE and then gradually spread across East Asia in the first seven centuries of the Common Era, is the proliferation in Mahayana sutras of countless celestial buddhas, buddhas virtually unknown in the earlier Buddhist tradition. In the vastly expanded cosmic vision of Mahayana, buddhas are imagined as working...

Part II. Translations

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Writings from the Kōbō Years (1930–1933)

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pp. 45-57

The formation of the Kōbō Gakuen or Academy for Advancing the Dharma in 1930 came after Kaneko Daiei had been dismissed from the university and Soga Ryōjin had resigned under pressure. These were dark years for the scholars and students at Ōtani who viewed these men as leaders of a movement to bring Shin Buddhism into the modern era. The thrust of Kaneko’s and Soga’s scholarship was to shift the focus of Shin belief from a Pure Land and an Amida...

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“A Name but Not a Name Alone” (1960)

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pp. 58-88

“A Name but Not a Name Alone” deals with a subject at the heart of Shin Buddhism, the correct understanding of the name of Amida Buddha. In 1960, Yasuda had the opportunity to participate in an extended discussion with the Protestant theologian Paul Tillich (1886–1965), one of several theologians whose writings he had studied. In the summer of that year, Tillich visited Japan and expressed the desire to meet with Buddhist leaders. Yasuda actually...

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“Humans as Bodhisattvas” (1962)

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pp. 89-100

In “A Name but Not a Name Alone,” Yasuda clarified the meaning of the name, Namu Amida Butsu, as the expression of the existential realization of one’s ultimate grounding in the true nature of reality that transcends provisional names and yet enables one to engage the world of provisional names in a constructive way. In the essay translated here, “Humans as Bodhisattvas,” published in 1962, Yasuda develops further the latter theme. He touches again...

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“The Homeland of Existence” (1964)

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pp. 101-113

Published two years after “Humans as Bodhisattvas,” “The Homeland of Existence” explores the theme of the deep human longing for a homeland and, as a response to that longing, the ultimate Pure Land as understood in Yasuda’s Shin philosophy. The Pure Land, as one might expect, is not a land different from the one humans inhabit; it is not external to us. Rather it is our land correctly understood. It is the land in which human beings understand their true...

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“Fundamental Vow, Fundamental Word” (1972)

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pp. 114-140

This relatively late work, published in 1972, brings together many of the themes that Yasuda had lectured and written about for decades. Here he writes again about the deep connection between the Tathāgata and sentient beings, emphasizing once more that the Tathāgata should be understood as the true nature of sentient beings and sentient beings as the expression of the Tathāgata. He takes up the topic of the centrality of practice, and in this connection...

Abbreviations

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pp. 141-142

Notes

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pp. 143-166

Bibliography

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pp. 167-172

Index

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pp. 173-182

About the Author

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pp. 183-186